Doctor-to-Doctor Communication is Critical – Here’s Why

Just for a second, imagine you’re suffering from a minor intestinal issue. You call your primary care provider to make an appointment and he can see you right away. It’s not the best or even worse news, but he is sending you to a specialist. You’re a little nervous as you drive over to the hospital and land in the hands of a GI specialist that you’ve never met before. He asks, “What are you here for today, Denise?” You think to yourself, shouldn’t he know what I am here for? I am not even sure what I am here for! You sheepishly reply, “Well, I am not sure. My primary doctor said he would be faxing over my records and you would handle the rest.”

The primary doctor did not fax Denise’s records; therefore, the specialist was not able to properly care for her at the time of her visit.

A 2011 study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated that roughly 70% of primary care physicians say they send a patient’s medical records with reason for consultation most of the time, and 35% of specialists claim they receive the records in time for the appointment.

Our group of cerebral palsy attorneys at Gershon, Willoughby, Getz & Smith are finding that doctor-to-doctor miscommunication is becoming far too common in today’s healthcare practices.

Doctor-to-doctor communication is critical when it comes to quality patient care and here’s why.

Saves Lives

Imagine that? When doctors appropriately communicate and send each other critical patient information, it can save a life. Whether it be an allergy or blood type—when a doctor fails to provide this information, it puts a life at risk.

Repeat Tests

It is typical for men over 50 to undergo prostate exams. Specialists and primary care providers alike can perform the exam and then another isn’t due for a year. If doctors do not communicate they have performed certain exams on their patients with one another, it’s more likely a patient will have to endure multiple instances of the same tests because his doctors failed to communicate. Not to mention the cost of the exams will be billed twice to the patient’s insurance company.

Higher Medical Error

This goes hand in hand with saving lives. Lack of communication can cause a severe injury or even a minor medical error, which are both unacceptable. Medical errors are ranked number five ahead of diabetes, accidents, breast cancer, and gunshot wounds, on the list of the top ten causes of death – according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Medical error is also the leading cause for delayed treatments, incorrect medications, and wrongful surgeries.

If you feel you’ve been a victim of doctor-to-doctor miscommunication – please contact our medical malpractice lawyers in Baltimore today at 1-877-292-6491.

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